1040 Whitley Ave., Corcoran CA 93212   |   Phone: (559) 992-3115

By: Lieutenant Colonel


Rudy W. Cardona




The roar of F-15 fighter aircraft engines drown the conversations of Corcoran students as they receive a briefing from weapons specialists who prepare an aircraft for its night sortie mission. No, this isn’t an overseas mission we sent our students on, but a peek into the future for some of Corcoran High School’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) cadets.


On 19 November 2015, several hand-selected cadets from the AFJROTC unit in Corcoran were able to participate in a career-focused field trip to the Fresno California Air National Guard base and to the Air Force ROTC unit on the California State University, Fresno campus. This was an opportunity for the Corcoran cadets to speak with real Airman who have a real mission defending our homeland, and an opportunity to engage with university-level cadets who will soon be active duty officers upon graduation. The coordination of two such events on the same day was not easy and took several funding streams to accomplish, but would turn into a trip with life-long memories.


The first stop on the day’s journey was to the 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno, California where cadets were able to experience the day-in-the-life of Airman from various career fields. The base staff was very helpful in pre-coordinating discussion time with personnel in career fields the students were interested in pursuing. Master Sergeant Rebecca Mendoza and Staff Sergeant Moneshia Washington, both recruiters at the base, showcased the base and its mission. Cadets were able to learn about careers in aircraft maintenance and operations, aircrew flight equipment, security forces, and public affairs. The cadets were fortunate to see their classroom discussions and topics come to life. The interesting activities and discussion led to several positive cadet comments such as, “I don’t want to leave”.


Bulldog country was the next stop on the cadet’s road to plotting a path to the cadets’ potential future. While at Fresno State students toured the campus and heard about student life from several of the cadets enrolled in the Air Force ROTC program. Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Bourque, the Detachment Commander, and Captain Larry Cornelio, the operations and recruiting flight commander, also spoke about scholarship opportunities within the program and officer career field opportunities.


For all, this was the first time stepping foot on a college campus. And for some, this would be the first time any in their family were able to step onto a college campus. This is a place where dreams are made and opportunities are endless. Corcoran students walked through the library, campus quad area, and student union where Starbucks cups and higher learning conversations are plentiful. College students and faculty walked past the cadets, who were dressed in their best pressed uniforms and heads held high, with admiration for the spark in Corcoran youth eyes. Their futures are bright and because of this day, new ideas have entered young minds. Many thanks to the Corcoran Board of Education and Community And Schools Together (CAST) for making this happen.


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